Oct 31, 2013

A TAHARA “HOW TO” -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2013 10:00 AM – 12:00 NOON

Those things you don’t want to talk about presents:


Have you ever wondered what actually happens in the secret and mysterious tahara room? Come to Netivot Shalom and see a demonstration of this centuries-old practice.
No charge, but donations always appreciated: all adults welcome.

10:00 AM – 12:00 NOON

Note: food will not be served

Congregation Netivot Shalom
1316 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94702

RSVP not required

Center for Jewish Studies 2014 Winter Intersession & Spring Courses!!

Center for Jewish Studies 2014 Winter Intersession & Spring Courses!!

For more information on these courses please contact CJS at (510)649-2482 or cjs@gtu.edu



Winter Intersession January 6-16, 2014     

Reading Classical Jewish Sources

Rutie Adler, UC Berkeley

Course ID: BSHR 3440                     Monday-Friday, 10:00AM - 2:30PM           Location: Hedco at GTU

This course is designed for intermediate Hebrew students to improve their ability to read post-biblical Hebrew texts from the Mishna through the Middle Ages, to modern Hebrew journalistic and literary texts. Students are expected to have at least one year of college Hebrew. Please note, if we do not have more than 5 students, the course will be cancelled. To register: GTU students need to register on WebAdvisor by December 15, 2013.

Community auditors are welcome. $150 fee payable to CJS


Spring 2014


Ancient-Medieval Jewish Civilization

Deena Aranoff, Graduate Theological Union

Course ID: HSST-2022                     Mondays, 9:40AM-12:30PM                        Location: Hedco at GTU

This course will examine Jewish civilization from its beginnings in ancient Israel through its development in medieval times. We will examine features of Jewish communal life, as well as the intellectual and religious currents among Jews in the ancient and medieval periods. This course will provide an understanding of the continuities and discontinuities in Jewish history and the overall process of cultural change in Judaism. This course is required for all M.A. and Certificate students at CJS. Weekly response papers/Final Exam.


Gender and Talmud

Charlotte Fonrobert, Stanford University, Visiting Professor of Rabbinics at CJS

Course ID: HRBS-4351                    Wednesdays, 9:40AM-12:30PM                                Location: CDSP-113

This course will explore the construction of gender in the Talmud through close readings of significant legal passages in the treatment of women, marriage & gender. We will supplement this analysis of primary sources by reading in gender theory, both within & outside the field of rabbinics. Hebrew/Aramaic reading ability required


Hellenism, Judaism, and Empire

Ashley Bacchi, Graduate Theological Union

Course ID: HS-3735                          Thursdays, 2:10PM-5:00PM                         Location: CDSP-116

This course will explore questions of Jewish identity before and after the Maccabean Revolt.

Students will be introduced to primary sources and recent scholarship concerning the interaction between Judaism and Hellenism in order to evaluate how both acceptance and rejection fostered transformation. Seminar: class presentation; final research paper. Basic knowledge of Hebrew Bible required in order to appreciate what is being imitated as well as created. This course is taught by PhD student Ashley Bacchi with a Newhall Award, under the supervision of Dr. Deena Aranoff.


Love & Sex in Modern Jewish Literature

Naomi Seidman, Koret Professor of Jewish Culture, Graduate Theological Union

Course ID: RA-2217                         Thursdays, 9:40AM-12:30PM                      Location: MUDD-204 

The emergence of modern Jewish literature in the nineteenth century was accompanied by the secularization and Westernization of traditional Jewish marital structures, erotic practices, and gender roles. Modern Jewish literature both reflected and shaped these transformations, serving as a site for the negotiation of traditional and modern values around love and sex. We will trace this journey from the Haskalah to contemporary Jewish American and Israeli narrative prose; readings include Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer, S.Y. Agnon, and Grace Paley. All literature will be provided in the original and English translation. Seminar/final paper required, no prerequisites                                                                      

Politics of Biblical Translation

Naomi Seidman, Koret Professor of Jewish Culture, Graduate Theological Union

Course ID: BSHR-4530                    Mondays, 2:10PM-5:00PM                          Location: Hedco at GTU

This course will follow the career of Bible translation from the composition of the Septuagint to contemporary missionary translations. We will study translations narratives using post-colonialist theories to analyze the politics of cross-cultural transmission. Jewish, Christian and Islamic approaches to translation will be contrasted. All texts will be available in English translation. Seminar/ final paper.


The Power of Narrative and Metaphor as a Platform for Teaching, Writing, and Personal Development               

Dr. Stephen S. Pearce, Visiting Professor at CJS

Course ID: TBD                                  Tuesdays, 9:40AM-12:30PM                        Location: TBD

This course focuses on the transformative and redemptive capacity of narrative and metaphor: charter myths, folk traditions, religious legends and sacred texts, mythology, drama, poetry, saga, paradox and humor.  When properly understood, narrative in all its forms enriches cultural and religious understanding and the transfer of knowledge from one context to another, while circumventing resistance to old and new ideas.  Drawing on Jewish, non-Jewish and secular sources, students will employ a close reading of texts for an expansive understanding of the life cycle, ritual and holiday occasions, worship and the ever-changing landscape of American religious life, and will thus learn to incorporate the oldest, deeply-embedded ways of understanding human consciousness and motives into academic, congregational and personal work. 


Additional Jewish Studies Courses at the GTU


Jewish Art and Politics

Rene'e Powell, Center for Arts and Religion

Course ID: RA- 1145        Thursdays, 2:40PM-5:00PM                         Location: MUDD 102

How many ways has art been used to shape our perceptions? This course will examine how visual images have been used as a vehicle to influence our views of social and political ideology. We will analyze both visual and literary interpretations of the art work with the intention of finding new insights about the rich cultural history of Judaism. The course will also examine how the fascist regime systematically used modern art to build Hitler's political campaign which attacked race and culture.


Jews, Christians and Muslims: Conflicts & Interactions 1400-1600

Dr. Christopher Ocker, Professor of Church History, San Francisco Theological Seminary

Course ID: HSHR-4801/HSHR-5801   Tuesdays, 2:10PM – 5PM    Location: GTU (Room TBD)

The seminar will examine interactions across the frontiers (both cultural and geographical) that

distinguished Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the early modern period. This will include

interactions within Europe, including Iberia, and between Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the

"Renaissance" and "Reformation." Particular attention to travel literature, polemical literature, and implicit intellectual exchanges. Sources in English translation. Term paper. Students taking the seminar at the 5000 level will be expected to do some work on primary sources in original languages. [PIN code required; 10 max enrollment]


For more information on these courses please contact CJS at (510)649-2482 or cjs@gtu.edu


Courses can also be viewed online: http://www.gtu.edu/centersandaffiliates/jewishstudies/courses


Daniella Bensimon

Office Manager/Program Coordinator

Center for Jewish Studies- Graduate Theological Union

2465 Le Conte Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

Phone: 510.649.2482

Fax: 510.649.1730

Email: dbensimon@gtu.edu



When someone is determined to not trust you, there's nothing you can do to prove yourself. In fact, the more you try to prove your worth, the less you believe it yourself. Be the worthy person God made you to be, and let others' problems be their problems.

Oct 30, 2013

Fwd: This is Going to be a Very Special Shabbat!

Scholar in Residence Shabbat with Rabbi Aaron Alexander!
Nov. 1-2

Friday Night
Davening 5:30
Dinner* 6:30
rsvp info below
Rabbi Alexander will share a teaching during dinner "When Stealing Goes Beyond Objects: How Jacob and Esau Teach Us Legal Justice - Religious Holiness"
RSVP for dinner to Allie in the shul office at office@netivotshalom.org. $13/adult, $9/child, 
$40 max/family.
Shabbat Day
Rabbi Alexander will share the drasha and an after-Birkat haMazon learning "Expressions of Unorthodox Joy: Medieval Sanity & Creativity Exposed in Halakhah"


A Note from Rabbi Creditor
A Very Special Shabbat!

26 Cheshvan, 5774

Oct. 30, 2013

Dear Chevreh,

  rabbi creditor

This Shabbat at Netivot Shalom is going to be a very special one!

I hope you'll join me in welcoming and learning from Rabbi Aaron Alexander, who will serve as our Scholar-in-Residence this Shabbat!
Rabbi Alexander is Associate Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles where he teaches rabbinic literature and Jewish law. He currently serves on the Committee for Jewish and Standards of the Conservative Movement and is a well-respected Rabbinic Leader in the American Jewish Social Justice Movement. You won't want to miss a moment of his teaching - and we'll certainly be sparked to continue our own conversations as a community once Shabbat has ended.
Rabbi Alexander will teach at Shabbat dinner (RSVP by Thurs morning to office@netivotshalom.org!), deliver the drasha during Shabbat morning davening, and will teach after Birkat haMazon. Please see the topics and times in the column to the left.
On a personal level, I am very excited to have Rabbi Alexander visit us. He is my teacher, a dear friend, and someone whose soul and skills touch our world in important ways. I believe that the Torah he teaches future rabbis at the Ziegler School is the Torah he embodies in interfaith gatherings, in his writings on the Huffington Post - and in his eyes. 
Please attend every part of his visit you can. We'll have a lot to process, and even more reason to engage in the world as learning, growing Jews.
See you on Shabbat! 
Rabbi Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom 
Join Our Mailing List

Fwd: A Message from Rabbi Menachem Creditor

October 30, 2013
Scholar in Residence Weekend

Rabbi Creditor asked the 3rd-7th graders & their parents- What did you do yesterday to save the world? What will you do today?" Multi-aged groups shared their responses to this powerful question.

Thanks from Rabbi Creditor

I just wanted to say how blessed I feel to have been part of Kehillah's community this past Shabbat/weekend. From the very first moment with Linda, picking me up at the airport and sharing some of her love for Simone z"l with me, to davening/eating/learning with the community on Friday night, to soaking in Rabbi Jen's Shabbat entrancing davening, to sharing more Torah and learning throughout Shabbat, and then sharing time with the Hebrew School children and families Sunday morning... North Carolina has its own Jerusalem, and it's located within the hearts of Kehillah Synagogue. 

The spirits of Martin and Simone z"l are alive and well, pulsing and challenging each of us to save the world, person by person. I cannot thank you enough for the humbling honor of teaching in their memory.

May Kehillah's spirit transform the world by hearing the Jewish call for Justice and acting on it, touching one heart and soul at a time.

Much Love,

 Todah Rabah

This weekend would not have been possible without our dedicated committee- Adele Roth, Linda Frankel, Kathy Soule, Hannah Chase, Cara Siegel, Malinda Berman and Marion Robboy. Thank you to all the volunteers that assisted the commitee-Lew Margolis, Michele Rivkin-Fish, Julie Harris, Etan, Noam & Jayden Gumerman, Ava & Lee Nackman, Sue Blaustein, Randy, Matti & Ari Kauftheil, David Luks & Adina Orenstein-Luks, Gerry Cohn, Amy Entwistle & Adina Davidson.


Behind the Scenes
The weekend was made possible by Simone and Martin who made a generous donation to Kehillah in their will. Kehillah established the Scholars-in-Residence fund with this legacy gift, and will use the interest to bring in a dynamic scholar biennially.  It is powerful to reflect on how Simone and Martin - even after their deaths - continue to enrich our community through this gift of love and caring.  We welcome your donations to help grow the Lipman Scholars-in-Residence Fund. Additionally, a bequest to the Kehillah, similar to the one made by Simone and Martin, will have a lasting impact on the life of our community.  For more information contact Anne Maner.


For me, It was an awesome weekend at every level...spiritual nourishment, culinary delights and  lively conversations with members of our diverse community --- Just what I always hoped my synagogue community would be like.   
What a wonderful Scholar in Residence . It was informative, stimulating and thought provoking.

How enlightening, enjoyable and thought provoking this Shabbat weekend with Rabbi Menachem Creditor was. His passion for social justice was inspiring. We discussed his ideas for what seemed like hours yesterday and today.  

This past weekend with Rabbi Jen and Rabbi Creditor was amazing! So much to think about and so much to do!


1200 Mason Farm Road     Chapel Hill, NC 27514     919.338.2696     kehillahsynagogue.org

Matter. Grow. Belong.

CreationTweet 02:

For embodied images of the Divine -vulnerable, relational- perfection is unendurable. So love every holy, imperfect other.

Oct 29, 2013

CreationTweet #2

For embodied images of the Divine -vulnerable, relational- perfection is unendurable. So love every holy, imperfect other.

CreationTweet #1

nothing new is born without controversy. but that's how creation works. waters split, earth shakes, & dust lives. r/evolution hurts. 

Every victory against the gun lobby matters!!!

To pass legislation in Congress, we need to convince wavering Senators that keeping guns away from criminals and the dangerously mentally ill will save lives, and that leaders who support gun responsibility win elections.

That's why every election that pits a principled pro-responsibility, pro-gun safety candidate against the gun lobby is so important -- why every victory means so much.

And we have a chance for an important win in Virginia's gubernatorial race one week from today.

We have pledged to counter the NRA's financial involvement in that race dollar-for-dollar, but we need your help to make it happen.

Contribute today and help us score a critical victory for common sense solutions to reduce gun violence.

Virginia Gubernatorial Debate: October 24, 2013

Moderator: "Ted in Blacksburg wants to know do you support or oppose universal background checks...?"

Terry McAuliffe: "Let me answer this first as a parent, as a spouse ... I'm a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, I'm a gun owner and I'm a hunter. But I support universal background checks. My opponent and I differ on that."
There's a real difference between the two candidates in this race: Terry McAuliffe will work to make our communities safer -- his opponent Ken Cuccinelli has led the fight against responsible solutions to reduce gun violence.

Contribute $25 today, and let's send a powerful message that supporting background checks in a "purple" state or district is the right thing to do.

After spending five years in Congress, I know the pressures my friends on each side of the aisle face when making up their minds on important issues like this one.

Winning this race in Virginia will go a long way towards making it easier for a few more of them to take the right vote the next time background checks comes up.

All the best,


Paid for by Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC; not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

May the memories of Simone and Martin Lipman be a blessing!

This past Shabbat, I served as the first Simone and Martin Lipman Scholar in Residence at Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Simone and Martin z"l, exemplified Kehillah Synagogue's commitment to social justice, and it was a humbling honor to teach in their memories. 

From the very first moment to the last, I felt the spirits of Martin and Simone z"l alive and well, channeled by their sons Robert and Peter pulsing and challenging each of us to save the world, person by person. I cannot thank Rabbi Jen Feldman, Education Director Sherri Morris, and the entire community enough for the humbling honor of teaching in their memory. May Kehillah's spirit transform the world by hearing the Jewish call for Justice and acting on it, touching one heart and soul at a time.

I share here a small glimpse into who Simone and Martin z"l were. May their memories be a blessing!

                      - rabbi menachem creditor

Simone was born in France in the Alsatian village of Ringendorf. After graduating high school, she entered a program in early childhood education. Her studies were cut short by the start of World War II. Simone became a resident worker at a French internment camp where her efforts focused on the children. Ultimately, she helped to rescue 350 children and place them with French families, in orphanages, in convents and in summer camps. All of her immediate family survived the war. Simone moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1946 on a scholarship awarded by the National Council of Jewish Women to resume her education. Simone had a long career in social work in Cleveland and Syracuse helping children and their families.

Martin was born in Stolzenau, Germany. He lost his father at the age of four and as a child grew up victimized as a Jew in Nazi Germany. He escaped to an English boarding school in 1938. When the war started, he was interned for a year as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. After his internment, he joined the war effort by working in a factory. His mother and grandmother died in the Holocaust. In 1945, he moved to Cleveland to join his brother and sister. He worked his way through Case Institute of Technology and was then hired by Carrier Corporation. His installations of low temperature industrial refrigeration can be found in Europe, South Africa, China and Japan.

Simone & Martin met in Cleveland in 1946, were wed in Paris in 1949 and soon began a family. In 1963, the family moved to Syracuse, NY where they helped to establish Beth Shalom synagogue. In 1986 they retired to Chapel Hill. As part of their efforts to create Jewish communities, Martin and Simone joined others in founding the Kehillah Synagogue, and they tirelessly devoted themselves to ensuring its success. Simone became actively involved in the Jewish community and was instrumental in establishing Jewish Family Services. Martin was a tinkerer; he soon became known as the man who could fix anything. He made use of his skills volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Jewish Family Services, Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation, Beth El Synagogue, Hillel and Kehillah Synagogue. He served on the boards of Hillel and the Jewish Federation. The Lipmans were blessed with a loving marriage of 59 years, two sons (Peter and Robert) and several grandchildren. May their memories be for a blessing.

Oct 24, 2013

God is Also Created in the Image of God [#poem]

God is Also Created in the Image of God
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Treat God kindly,
because God is only
created in in the Image of God.

And we know how that feels.

Powerful and vulnerable,
well-meaning sometimes,
mostly alone.

Believing the best about someone else takes less energy than healing from believing the worst.

Oct 23, 2013

The Blessing of Forgiveness

The Blessing of Forgiveness
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Forgiveness is so powerful. When someone asks from their heart that you forgive them, that act of forgiveness feels like lifting an anvil off of your own heart, an anvil you couldn't lift alone, a weight that required two lifters. What a holy feeling, and what bravery it requires. Blessed are You, God, Who gives us the strength to forgive and be forgiven.

Oct 21, 2013

CNS Drasha for Parashat VaYera: Domestic Violence and Becoming a Sukkat Shalom

NSLogo Drasha for Parashat VaYera:
Domestic Violence and Becoming a Sukkat Shalom
Rivka Greenberg


As I say to all of you, Shabbat Shalom, the meaning of the phrase is doubled this morning. 


"Shabbat Shalom" is indeed the traditional greeting on this day of Shabbat.  But my presence here today is also because of "The Shabbat Shalom Campaign" of Shalom Bayit, our Bay Area's local agency working to prevent domestic violence in the Jewish community.  Shalom Bayit has asked that all synagogues incorporate a drash on domestic violence in October to support Domestic Violence awareness month. Full disclosure - I am not only a member of Netivot Shalom; I am also the board chair of Shalom Bayit.

Click the image for the Shalom Bayit Website! 
CNS members interested in working on  Netivot Shalom abuse policy/ protocol/learnings are invited to email Rivka Greenberg at  info@shalom-bayit.org.


In this drash, I am inviting you to use what for some of you will be different lenses to think about this parasha, and perhaps if it works for you, to use it with other parshiot as well.


We generally think of a lens as something we use to help us see, but it can be used for so much more - to support our other senses as well as our understanding.  Once our awareness is heightened using new lenses, we may speak, see, feel, hear and understand in ways that are different than before. Here are two examples.


One: in a college class that I taught in the Midwest in the 90's, I gave the students the word family and asked them to use stick figures to draw a family. The immediate reaction of ¾ of the students was to draw 2 children, and a male and female parent.  Through discussion their lens of understanding of what can constitute a family changed.


Two: Let's similarly look at the phrase "Shalom Bayit". The literal translation is "Peace in the home." As the Shalom Bayit website says:  The concept of Shalom Bayit has traditionally been used to force women into submissive, "peacekeeping" roles within the family, often sacrificing their emotional and physical safety for the sake of maintaining an external image of the perfect Jewish family. Shalom Bayit chooses to reclaim these words as our name, in the spirit of returning to the original meaning of peace in the home: a home and family who are loving, respectful, and violence-free. We are dedicated to the empowerment of battered women and their children, as well as to challenging abuse in its many forms. 


Some of the words that I will be saying this morning are painful - but they are all too often what happens in real life. We know that 1 in 4 women and girls will be abused in their lifetimes and that violence against women and violence in general is a public health problem. Violence is one of the top 10 leading causes of death, with domestic violence accounting for over 1000 deaths a year. This week I heard in the news of 2 teen deaths associated with bullying.  But the topic is more than a public health problem it is an ethical concern.


My personal minhag (custom), building on the minhag I established with my daughters for their bat mitzvahs, is that the sources I use in a drasha are all from women. Women's voices and wisdom have too often been excluded in our tradition.


The parshat hashavua, Vayera (Genesis 18:1 - 22:24) is full of descriptions of family dynamics - and many troubling descriptions of violence against women. I would like to do some text study of the parasha, using two perspectives. The first is using examples of domestic violence. But to use only that perspective would be a disservice to our tradition. So the second perspective will be using change, tikkun olam/social action.


In this parasha we find these domestic violence traits: 


(1) Underlying belief in one's superiority over another and

(2) tactics such as intimidation, threats, control, emotional abuse,  physical violence and sexual harassment/assault 


Let's begin with a particularly unpleasant story in chapter 19.  Two angels come to visit Lot in Sodom.  They say they will spend the night in the village square, but Lot graciously invites them to his home instead.  When the villagers demand that Lot release the men so they can rape them, we read in verse 8: Lot says: 


"I beg you, my friends, do not commit such a wrong. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please; but do not do anything to these men, since they have come under the shelter of my roof."


Where are the women's voices in this? Where and by whom are the women empowered to resist being raped?  Why would Lot think the rape of a woman would be any less awful than the rape of a man and that it wasn't ok for the townspeople to abuse the male guests, but it was perfectly ok for them to do the same thing with his daughters? The parsha proceeds to a story of date rape, though a gender-twisting version:   After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the death of Lot's wife, these same traumatized daughters are afraid that they are the only people left alive in the world and get their father drunk so that he will sleep with them - the victim in this case is a man. These are very disturbing stories.


Next let's look at chapter 20 where Abraham and Sarah go to where Abimelech is king. Abraham is afraid that Abimelech, will desire Sarah, so instead of admitting that they are husband and wife, Abraham calls Sarah his sister, making her fair game for the king.  We are told in 20:2 Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." So King Abimelech had Sarah brought to him. Abraham used his power to control Sarah and put her in harm's way so that he would not be harmed.


The last example is in chapter 21, the story of Hagar and Ishmael.  This story is fresh in our minds from Rosh Hashana.  In verse 14, we read: And Abraham arose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and strayed in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.


Abraham consciously did actions that caused harm to Hagar and Ishmael - to name them - spouse abuse and child abuse including shunning/isolation. How common this story is today.  Any day we can open the newspaper or computer and read of people abandoning/harming their partner and children, refusing to pay alimony and child support, wanting to disappear from responsibility.


This parasha gives us plenty of examples of domestic abuse.  There is a clear intent to harm in the story of Ishmael, Hagar and Abraham.  There is an ongoing pattern of power and control of Abraham over his wife Sarah when he pimps her to Abimelech.  There is silence from the victim: Sarah as she is offered to Abimelech, the daughters of Lot as they are offered to the townspeople, Hagar as she and her son are being tossed to a certain death These stories in our parsha are indeed upsetting to hear and to read but for some of us, they are mirrors of things we have watched or been involved in.


But by looking at the parasha through a second lens, the lens of change - we can participate in interrupting the cycle of abuse.


Dr. Judith Plaskow has provided a commentary on this parasha in the book, Torah a Women's Commentary. She says:


"This Torah portion makes clear that our ancestors are by no means always models of ethical behavior that edify and inspire us. On the contrary, often the Torah holds up a mirror to the ugliest aspects of human nature and human society. It provides us with opportunities to look honestly at ourselves and the world we have created, to reflect on destructive patterns of human relating, and to ask how we might address and change them."


This introduces the concept of tikkun ha'olam - repairing the world.


Lot, his wife and daughters are very prominent in this parasha and many of the actions of each of them are very controversial. The word Lot - lamed vav tet - means cover. I wonder if we could use the lens of change to uncover what is happening in this parsha and see what we can do to bring tikkun olam to the world around us.


Identifying what has been done, what has been allowed to be done is important - but reframing it to look not just at what happened -but to look at what can be changed to correct the situation, keeps us from being rooted to the past. Many of you are parents, grandparents or teachers of children. -What we often do with children is to tell them what not to do. The baby uses her new found amazing abilities of reaching and touching - and reaches for this wonderful thing- the electric outlet - which was placed right at the level of a crawling baby. This, as a child development specialist I can say, is actually developmentally appropriate for the child to do. As an intervention - because children that age are not aware of safety, we would say - don't touch that - which would account for immediate safety concern but not give the child the tools or understanding for self care and growth. What actually might work better is tell the child what TO DO in addition to dealing with the safety issue.  


At the beginning of this drash - I identified examples of emotional and physical violence in this parasha. The key question is how can this millennial-long pattern be changed? Like the example with the baby - What can we do? I submit that change will not happen by one action but many and more specifically by many people individually and as a community, both here at Netivot Shalom and in society in general, to alter the way we have done things in the past.


As Naomi Tucker, executive director of Shalom Bayit has said, we have guidance from our tradition and the ability to create change - what can we do - Some examples include:


Repair the world, tikkun olam - Rabbi Jill Jacobs has commented that Tikkun ha'olam includes our own actions as contributing to the process of fixing large societal problems thus contributing to the greater human and divine world


Continue to redefine peace in the home to be for all.  Look around at your family, at your work, at your friends.  Are there relationships of inequality?  Is someone afraid to speak up?  Is there intent to harm?  An ongoing pattern of power and control?  A silent victim?  Disbelief of a victim's cries for help?  Do you see this in yourself?  Do you have the courage to speak if you see this behavior in others?


Leviticus 19:16 tells us: "Do not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor"That means we cannot view domestic violence as a "private, family matter." We are actually called upon to do something / take action if we know someone is being harmed. Sometimes that might be providing sanctuary for the person being abused - which could be a physical place to go or a conversation on the other end of a phone line. Sometimes that might be accountability: calling your friend or relative or neighbor on the carpet if they are mistreating their loved ones. We must all ask ourselves: what will we do if....


Our community can set standards for acceptable behaviors.  At this point there is only one synagogue in the greater bay area, Kehilla which has a policy on abuse. As a community we need to explore - educate ourselves on how we can have Netivot Shalom not only be a path to peace but become a shelter of peace Sukkat shalom - for those who are being harmed - turn words into actions


We need to work on creating culture shifts and change beliefs - We as community members can question negative cultural values  and statements - where do they come from - find ways to say something when you hear statements like - I will kill you for doing ....; boys will be boys, "wife beaters," t-shirts,  and other examples of machismo and sexism


Returning to the parasha - this time from the perspective of tikkun olam. This parsha has a beautiful story of advocacy.   For 13 verses in chapter 18 Abraham tries very hard to convince God not to destroy Sodom.  We all need to learn different ways to stand up for what we believe in. And we can borrow language from verse 17 chapter 21. 


When Hagar has been banished by Abraham, we read: 


"And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her: 'What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is."


The Torah provides us with examples of how speaking out can end silencing and create change. When we stop being silent by-standers, it is not just the victim that is being helped, but we are taking action - contributing to tikkun olam.


Shalom Bayit's mission is to foster the social change and community response necessary to eradicate domestic violence in the Jewish community. We provide support to survivors, prevention education and training for teens and young adults through our Love Shouldn't Hurt program, and work with the community on abuse prevention, including an 80 member rabbinical advisory council, of which many rabbis here are members.


I would like to read this mishaberach written by the Jewish Women International's clergy task force that addresses the needs of families touched by domestic violence.


May the One who blessed our ancestors Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, provide protection, compassion, care and healing for all those who have known violence and abuse within their families. May those who have been harmed find pathways to understanding and wholeness - and those who have   caused harm find their way to repentance and peace. May our community be a source of support for those who have suffered in silence or shame. May those whose homes have become places of danger find their way to a sukkat shalom, a shelter of safety and  let us say Amen.


Congregation Netivot Shalom 
Announcing the Schedule for CNS' 
Scholar in Residence Shabbat 
with Rabbi Aaron Alexander!
Nov. 1-2

Friday Night
Davening 5:30  // Dinner* 6:30 (rsvp info below)
Rabbi Alexander will share a teaching during dinner "When Stealing Goes Beyond Objects: How Jacob and Esau Teach Us Legal Justice - Religious Holiness"
RSVP for dinner to Allie in the shul office at office@netivotshalom.org. $13/adult, $9/child, 
$40 max/family.
Shabbat Day
Rabbi Alexander will share the drasha and an after-Birkat haMazon learning "Expressions of Unorthodox Joy: Medieval Sanity & Creativity Exposed in Halakhah"

Rabbi Aaron Alexander is Associate Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles where he teaches rabbinic literature and Jewish law. He currently serves on the Committee for Jewish and Standards of the Conservative Movement and is a Rabbinic Leader in the American Social Justice Movement. 

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